White House memo: Harm to economy if greenhouse gases are regulated

By Chris Rizo | May 12, 2009

Lisa Jackson

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-If the U.S. government opts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions it could be a catastrophic blow to the nation's already struggling economy, an Obama administration memo says.

The interagency review memo to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also says that government regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act could foist open up the door to expansive government regulation.

The gasses that could be regulated under the finding are: carbon dioxide, hydrofluorocarbons , methane, nitrous oxide, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.

"Making the decision to regulate CO2 under the CAA for the first time is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the U.S. economy, including small businesses and small communities," the White House's Office of Management and Budget memo said. "Should EPA later extend this finding to stationary sources, small businesses and institutions would be subject to costly regulatory programs such as New Source Review."

A 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to officially determine whether climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions pose a public health danger.

More recently, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson last month issued a proposed so-called "endangerment finding," which means the federal government could begin regulating greenhouse gasses as air pollutants.

The EPA finding calls for a 60-day comment period. The Obama administration has yet to take a public position on the EPA's endangerment finding.

Speaking Tuesday before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Jackson said much of the scientific work and analysis behind the proposed finding was done before she assumed leadership of the agency in January.

She told lawmakers that the finding does not necessarily mean that new regulations are in the pike.

Already, federal legislation to regulate greenhouse gases is being written by U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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